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Republicans argue Biden student debt program is ‘major question’

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans want the Supreme Court to use a case about student loan debt relief to restrict the regulatory power of the Biden administration — even if that also would hamstring a future GOP president.

In two briefs in high court cases set for oral argument Tuesday, more than half of the Republicans in Congress urged the justices to rely on a legal doctrine that requires an agency to point to “clear congressional authorization” for rules on any “major questions” of political and economic significance.

The Biden administration has argued that the major questions doctrine does not apply to its program to forgive as much or more than $400 billion in student loans owed to the government. The authority to discharge debt is part of a federal benefit program — not a regulatory action — and it is central to a 2003 law, the government said in a brief.

But 43 Republican senators filed a brief that calls for the Supreme Court to use the major questions doctrine to find that the student debt relief plan goes beyond what Congress intended in that law — especially when it will cost more than $2,500 per taxpayer.

—CQ-Roll Call

House where 4 University of Idaho students were slain will be demolished

BOISE, Idaho — A house near the University of Idaho campus where four students were found stabbed to death in a gruesome attack in November will be demolished, university officials said.

In an email to students and employees Friday — with the subject line “Outpouring of Support Brings Healing From Tragedy” — Scott Green, the university president, said the owner of the house had offered to give the residence to the university. The house is located on King Road near the campus.

“The house will be demolished,” Green wrote. “This is a healing step and removes the physical structure where the crime that shook our community was committed. Demolition also removes efforts to further sensationalize the crime scene. We are evaluating options where students may be involved in the future development of the property.”

The message said the university has also created scholarships in the victims’ names and plans to develop a garden in their memories.

—Los Angeles Times

Aborted landing at Burbank airport was latest close call for US flights. Why experts say not to worry

LOS ANGELES — A flight arriving at Hollywood Burbank Airport this week was forced to abort its landing about 1,000 feet above the runway after an air traffic controller cleared another flight for takeoff at the same time, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The aborted Mesa Airlines landing was the latest in a string of errors involving U.S. flights and airports that have led to near misses between planes and left passengers holding their breath. But the high-profile incidents don’t necessarily mean there is a trend toward more mistakes occurring, according to the FAA and aviation experts, who say it is still the safest time to fly in history.

“There are a lot of airports in the United States and a lot of daily takeoffs and landings — on the order of 5,000. So having one or two (issues) occur in a week’s time is not a large number in comparison to the total number,” said Robert Ditchey, an aviation expert and former Navy pilot.

The Mesa Airlines flight was 1.3 miles from Burbank airport when it was forced to start regaining altitude in order to avoid a collision with a SkyWest Airlines Embraer E175 that was taking off from Runway 33 around 6:55 p.m. Wednesday, the FAA said.

—Los Angeles Times

China cease-fire proposal for Ukraine falls flat with US, allies

China called for a cease-fire between Russia and Ukraine in a position paper on ending the war that offered some reprieve to Moscow but was quickly dismissed by Kyiv’s allies as the conflict enters its second year.

Several of the 12 points outlined by China in the document issued Friday would, if carried out, offer clear benefits to Russian President Vladimir Putin. That includes a cease-fire, which would freeze Russian troops in place on Ukrainian territory, as well as a call to immediately end all sanctions not endorsed by the U.N. Security Council, where Russia holds veto power.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, speaking on CNN, brushed off the Chinese proposal, saying it should have ended after the first bullet point, which calls for “respecting the sovereignty of all countries.”

“This war could end tomorrow, if Russia stopped attacking Ukraine and withdrew its forces,” he said. Asked about the proposal, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “China doesn’t have much credibility” in light of its failure to condemn Putin’s war.

—Bloomberg News

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